|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 225, 23 November 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN WILL PROPOSE CONSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT WITH CONGRESS. State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis said Russian President Boris Yeltsin will seek a "constitutional agreement" with the upcoming Congress on the establishment of a "12-to 18-month period of stabilization," which should be achieved by "non-traditional forms of political and civic consensus." He stated that the power and competence of the president, parliament and the cabinet should be redefined for the stabilization period, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 November. He noted that Yeltsin will propose some "normative restrictions" on the present power of unspecified institutions (presumably parliament) for the period of stabilization. Burbulis did not exclude changes in the composition of the cabinet. (Alexander Rahr) PARLIAMENT TAKES CONCILIATORY STANCE. The Russian parliament adopted a remarkably conciliatory statement expressing its support at the upcoming Congress for any positive reform proposals by the Yeltsin administration, ITAR-TASS reported on 20-November. Parliament also rejected a proposal by the communist deputy Sergei Baburin for a vote of no-confidence in Russian President Boris Yeltsin. But some leading members of the Civic Union, such as the head of the Democratic Party of Russia, Nikolai Travkin, and co-chairman of the parliamentary faction "Smena," Igor Muravev, continued their previous attacks on Yeltsin, demanding that the reformist government should change course or resign. Both called on Yeltsin to change the composition of the cabinet. (Alexander Rahr) MORE ON PRIVATE LAND OWNERSHIP. The Russian parliament has passed a law giving limited property rights to owners of private garden plots, according to Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and western press agencies on 20 November. The law will give Russian citizens holding such plots the right to apply for ownership at no charge. 32.6 million families are estimated to own such plots. The law applies, however, to standard-size plots of circa 600 square meters. Land in excess of this can be purchased at the "market price" from local government authorities. Plots can thus be turned into private property, and used for garden produce or for private housing construction. The plots within the "standard size" category can also be put up for sale to other Russian citizens. (Sheila Marnie) UKRAINE TO RATIFY START TREATY BY JANUARY? During a meeting with US Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar on 22 November, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk informed them that the START treaty had been submitted to the Ukrainian parliament and he expected it to be ratified by January 1993. Kravchuk also noted that the senators informed him that Ukraine would receive $150 million from the US to help pay for the dismantling of nuclear warheads after the treaty was ratified. On 22 November Kravchuk had reiterated Ukraine's conditions for implementing the START treaty, specifically, financial compensation for the value of the weapons, assistance in dismantling them, and security guarantees from Western nuclear-armed states. Kravchuk's comments were reported by ITAR-TASS and Western news agencies. (John Lepingwell) FRICTION OVER BLACK SEA FLEET CONTINUES. Russian and Ukrainian officials have been trading charges regarding the ex-Soviet Black Sea Fleet. In a 20 November press conference reported by Interfax, Admiral Igor Kasatonov, the fleet's acting commander, said that the Ukrainian defense ministry had "unlawfully" seized fleet units. He was particularly concerned about the Ukrainian take-over of the fleet's fuel storage facility. Kasatonov also charged the Ukrainian Navy with the "clandestine" recruitment of fleet officers. He regarded this a flagrant violation of the previous agreements on the interim status of the fleet. That same day Radio Ukraine World Service charged that Kasatonov had improperly sanctioned the sale of a fleet command post to a private airline. The report stated further that a Crimean arbitration court had evaluated the contract as squandering fleet property and demanded that the command post be returned to the fleet. (Doug Clarke) COMMANDER ON UKRAINIAN NAVY'S FUTURE ROLE. Rear Admiral Boris Kozhin, the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, has said that the republic's naval doctrine will require an occasional naval presence outside the Black Sea. In an interview published by Interfax on 21-November Kozhin forecast a fleet of some 100 warships with a personnel strength of not more than 40,000. The fleet would include submarines and naval aviation as well as "special troops." Its main base will be Sevastopol, the present headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet. Kozhin also said that it was imperative that a decision on the partially- completed ex-Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag be made in the next two to three months. In his view the options were to either complete it for the Ukrainian Navy or the Russian Navy, or to sell it to another state. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIA, SOUTH KOREA SIGN DEFENSE PROTOCOL. On 20 November Russia and South Korea signed a protocol providing for regular visits of defense officials and naval vessels between the two countries. Port calls will be made after consulates are opened in Vladivostok and Pusan. The pact also provides for the exchange of military observers. The protocol was signed by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and South Korean Defense Minister Choi Sa-Chang, according to Western news agencies. (John Lepingwell) RUSSIA TO REVISE DEFENSE PACT WITH NORTH KOREA. Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 20 November stated that Russia is reviewing its 1961 defense treaty with North Korea. According to Yeltsin "We either have to cancel the treaty or make very serious changes [in it.]" Yeltsin called for the removal of the first article of the treaty, which obligated the Soviet Union (and hence Russia) to defend North Korea in event of an attack. He also noted that Russia has stopped providing "offensive weapons" such as MiG-29 fighters to North Korea and supported South Korea in its efforts to inspect Pyongyang's nuclear facilities. North Korea responded by denouncing the new Russian-South Korean defense agreement and accusing South Korea of becoming overly dependent on Russia. Yeltsin's comments were reported by Reuters and other Western news agencies. (John Lepingwell) NO BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS AT ST PETERSBURG LAB. The chairman of a Russian presidential commission, Academician Sergei Prozorovsky, told a 21-November press conference that his group could find no evidence to support Western concerns that the Institute of Pure Biological Preparations (BIOPREPARAT), in St. Petersburg, was engaged in any work on biological weapons. American and British experts worked on the commission. ITAR-TASS quoted the cochairman of the American delegation as saying that the commission had been given unimpeded access to the institute and its employees. A Russian scientist who defected to Great Britain in 1990 had claimed that the institute was secretly working to develop a strain of plague microorganisms for use as a biological weapon. Prozorovsky said that the institute had been working with plague strains, but only to create vaccines. (Doug Clarke) OFFICIALS CLARIFY YELTSIN'S SUBMARINE COMMENT. Valerii Makharadze, a deputy chairman of the Russian government, told ITAR-TASS on 20-November that President Yeltsin's recent comment, made during his visit to South Korea, that Russia might stop building nuclear submarines in the next three years, only applied to the eastern portion of the country. (There is a major shipyard at Komsomolsk, on the Amur River. It was the second yard in the USSR to construct nuclear submarines. However, the latest ballistic-missile submarines are too big to be built at this inland port, and it has largely switched over to diesel-powered boats.) Radio Rossii on 20-November quoted Andrei Kokoshin, the civilian first deputy defense minister, as saying that all future submarine construction would be concentrated at the giant SevMash enterprise in Severodvinsk, near Archangel in northwest Russia. All the other yards currently producing submarines would, in the future, only fit them out. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN TROOPS START CUBAN WITHDRAWAL. Reporting from Havana, a Mexican news agency reported on 20 November that more than 500 Russian troops had been taken from their base to Havana where they were to board a ship bound for Russia. The troops were said to belong to the Russian independent motorized infantry "training" brigade that has long been stationed on the island. The agency reported that this unit was also known as "Research Center No. 12." In early September the Cubans announced that all the Russian troops stationed in Cuba would be withdrawn by the middle of next year. They and the Russians later confirmed that Russians manning the former-Soviet electronic listening-post on the island would remain. (Doug Clarke) GENERAL CRITICIZES "IRRATIONAL" DIVISION OF ARMED FORCES. Lt. General Leonid Ivashov, the secretary of the CIS Council of Defense Ministers, told a Moscow meeting on 21-November that the armed forces of the former Soviet Union had been divided among the successor states in an "irrational" manner. As a result, he maintained, not a single CIS state was capable of ensuring its own security on its own. He charged that the hopes of some politicians to integrate these national forces on the NATO model "turned out to be bluff." At the same time, Ivashov applauded some of the positive developments, such as the exclusively defensive nature of the new states' military doctrines. He also thought that the mechanisms for global, regional, and national security were being created. (Doug Clarke) CONTRACT MILITARY SERVICE TO START THIS YEAR. General Gennadii Bochayev, who serves in the Russian Ministry of Defense, told a Moscow briefing on 17 November that the Russian military would begin accepting contract servicemen 1 December of this year. According to Interfax, the transition to a combined conscript/contract military would be made in three stages. In 1993, 10% of the Russian military would be on contract. In the second stage, to be completed by 1995, 30% would be on contract. By the year 2000, the third stage, 50% of the military would be on contract. Bochayev said that 100,000 people would be hired on contract in 1993, and that six billion rubles had been set aside for this purpose. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES GERMAN SETTLEMENT PROGRAM. The Russian government has approved a state program for establishing settlements for Russian Germans on the Volga river, the cabinet's press center reported on 20-November according to Interfax. The program was development by the local authorities of Volgograd, Samara, and Saratov oblasts on the basis of a joint Russian-German project. Plots are to be allotted to form farming complexes with 200 farmers in each. Russian Germans will also be given plots for houses, production enterprises, and other buildings. The farmers will receive the plots as private property. The Russian Finance Ministry will allocate 300 million rubles in financial support for the farmers in 1992. (Ann Sheehy) UDOVENKO APPOINTED UKRAINIAN ENVOY TO WARSAW. The new Ukrainian ambassador to Poland will be Genadii Udovenko, a former deputy foreign minister, who for the last 7 years represented Ukraine at the United Nations. Udovenko held a press conference in Kiev on 20 November, which was reported by Ukrainian TV. He said that one of his first tasks will be to complete the preparations for the visit of the Polish prime minister to Kiev, which is scheduled for 9-10-December. (Bohdan Nahaylo) PARLIAMENTARY BY-ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE. By-elections were held throughout Ukraine on 22-November to fill 28 vacant seats in the Ukrainian Supreme Council. Ukrainian Radio reported after voting had closed that because of low voter turnout, not all the elections may be valid. The results are still awaited. (Bohdan Nahaylo) CRIMEA AND THE DEPORTED NATIONS. In the course of a meeting organized by the Crimean parliament with representatives of nations deported from the peninsula in the 1940s, it was announced that 230,000 have returned from their places of exile (9% of the Crimea's population), Ukrainian TV reported on 19 November. Parliamentary chairman Mykola Bahrov, who addressed the meeting, singled out the most important issues facing the returnees. The Crimean Tatar Mejlis boycotted the session. (Roman Solchanyk) KUCHMA ON THE UKRAINIAN MAFIA. During a recent interview, Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma told the Italian newspaper La Reppublica that the Ukrainian mafia is considerably stronger than its Sicilian counterpart, Ukrainian TV reported on 19 November. Kuchma claimed that organized crime in Ukraine has access to the Cabinet of Ministers, and that it has "its people" in the offices of the ministries. Moreover, Kuchma stated that there were two to five billion dollars in the country illegally. (Roman Solchanyk). NABIEV RESIGNATION ACCEPTED. On 20 November the Tajikistan parliament meeting in Khodzhent recognized that former President Rakhmon Nabiev's resignation in September was invalid as it had been made under duress, Interfax reported. Nabiev then offered his resignation, which was accepted by a majority vote. The parliamentary session will continue on 23 November. The same day the new Acting President Imonali Rakhmanov will meet commanders of armed groups and also the new Prime Minister Abdumalik Abduladzhanov to discuss cabinet appointments. AFP quotes former Acting President Akbarsho Iskandarov as saying that peace may be difficult to achieve if the new government is not balanced politically and regionally. He said the team leading the effort to create a new government is dominated by pro-Communists from the Kulyab region. (Ann Sheehy) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE NATO BEGINS BLOCKADE OF MONTENEGRIN COAST. Late in the afternoon of 22-November NATO ships began a blockade in the Adriatic Sea that includes the declared right to stop and search vessels, and, if necessary, to use force against them. The action is seen as largely symbolic, since most smuggling to Serbia-Montenegro in violation of UN sanctions takes place overland or via the Danube. Western agencies reported on 20 November that French UN troops used heavy weapons in northwestern Bosnia for the first time. The French fired a warning shot from a 20-millimeter cannon after coming into crossfire between Bosnian and Serbian forces. On 21 November agencies reported that Bernard Kouchner, France's activist minister for humanitarian action and health, criticized the international community for only "shouting about an end to violence" in Bosnia- Herzegovina. He said that "one should be more courageous and go to war." (Patrick Moore) SERBS TO USE SCUDS IN BOSNIA? Western news agencies reported on 22 November that Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic has asked the UN to prevent Serb missile deployment against Gradacac and Brcko. A Bosnian army officer said that the Serbs took as many as twelve SCUDs from their major base at Banja Luka to Modrica and Odzak on 18 November, but there has been no independent confirmation of the Bosnian charges. International media did report on 22 November, however, that Sarajevo has come under heavy Serbian attack and that a major Serbian offensive is under way against Travnik in central Bosnia. Some 70,000 refugees from Jajce and elsewhere are currently in Travnik. (Patrick Moore) MILOSEVIC WILL RUN, COSIC SAYS NO. Radio Serbia reported on 20 November that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is the presidential candidate of the ruling Socialist Party (SPS) for the elections on 20 December. SPS Secretary-General Milomir Minic explained that Milosevic's candidacy for Serbia's president "reflects the mood of the broad section of the population and expresses the trust that he enjoys among the Serbian people and all citizens of Serbia." Interviewed in Politika on 22 November, Dobrica Cosic, president of the rump Yugoslavia, stated he will not run for president of Serbia, preferring to stay on as president of Serbia-Montenegro, but warned if the new parliament fails to show willingness to embark immediately on radical constitutional reforms and organize the state into a modern democracy, he will "quickly resign." Cosic said he and Milosevic do not share the same views on the meaning of democracy, ways of conducting foreign policy and differ sharply over the consequences of the UN-imposed sanctions. (Milan Andrejevich) OPPOSITION JOURNAL CALLS FOR PUTSCH AGAINST MILOSEVIC. The latest issue of the Serbian Renewal Movement's Srpska rec has called on the military to take action against the Serbian president. A commentary entitled "The Salvation of the Country and the Nation," admits that a putsch would be an undemocratic act but argues that the minimal conditions for a democratic society cannot be achieved while Milosevic holds power and "nobody can or ever will remove him by democratic means-especially not by elections in the shadow of his own armed force and the media." The article concludes "Really, what are the generals waiting for? It is high time for them to join the democratic opposition and in this way save the country and the nation." Military leaders have recently emphasized the armed forces will not serve as a political arbiter. (Milan Andrejevich) INDEPENDENT BELGRADE TV TO RECEIVE AID. According to the New York Times of 20-November, a UN Security Council committee has approved an exemption to the sanctions against Serbia-Montenegro that enables delivery of $240,000 worth of equipment for Belgrade's independent Studio B TV. The initiative was proposed by Britain and backed by the US. The move is seen as an effort to upgrade the station's programming, which was been an outlet for political parties opposed to Milosevic. Studio B began broadcasting in 1990, but its signal reaches only about 30% of Serbia's TV viewers. On 20 November the Socialist-controlled Program One of Belgrade TV charged that US assistance to the independent media is intended to convey the message that "Serbs must blame Serbs for everything happening to them." (Milan Andrejevich) DIMITROV FAILS TO FORM GOVERNMENT. In a 124 to 104 vote on 20 November, the Bulgarian Parliament rejected the government proposed by the Union of Democratic Forces and led by Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov, plunging the country further into political crisis. The vote of no-confidence was led by the opposition Socialist Party (the former communists) and joined by the increasingly powerful Movement for Rights and Liberties, a predominantly Turkish minority party that had deserted the UDF coalition, plus several UDF deputies who disapprove of Dimitrov's candidacy as prime minister. Reuters reports that Western diplomats in Sofia expect President Zhelyu Zhelev to call on the Socialists to try form a government, but with only 106 seats in Parliament, against 110 for the UDF and 24 for the MRL, their prospects are not good. Most observers believe the situation can only be resolved by early elections this winter. (Charles Trumbull) NEW CZECH INSTITUTIONS ESTABLISHED. On 20 November Tomas Kopriva, director of the Czechoslovak Press Agency (CSTK), signed a protocol abolishing the agency and establishing the Czech Press Agency (CTK). The assets of CSTK were transferred to CTK and its Slovak counterpart, the Press Agency of the Slovak Republic (TA SR) established earlier this year. Also on 20 November CTK reported that the Czech parliament voted to set up the Czech Ministries of Defense and Transportation as well as the office of the president of the republic. Parliament also approved legislation to permit a full-sized stock market. CTK reports that the law, the first of it kind in any postcommunist country, creates conditions for stock trading both at a regular stock exchange as well as an alternative computerized stock exchange designed to handle the product of the so-called voucher privatization. (Jiri Pehe) NEW GOVERNMENT TAKES OFFICE IN ROMANIA. On 20 November President Ion Iliescu swore in Romania's new government. Radio Bucharest reports that Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu pledges to continue reforms "in a coherent way." Iliescu wished the ministers success in what he described as their "tough task" to overcome the present difficulties. Vacaroiu's cabinet, which was confirmed by Parliament on 19-November by a 260 to 203 vote, consists of 22 ministers, of whom half are members of the Democratic National Salvation Front, the strongest party in the legislature. The other half-including the premier-say they are independent. Several ministers served in the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. (Dan Ionescu) FINAL RESULTS OF SEIMAS ELECTIONS. On 22-November Vaclovas Litvinas, the head of the Lithuanian election commission, announced the final results of the Seimas elections over Lithuanian TV. He noted that the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party gained 73 seats, the Sajudis coalition-30, the Christian Democratic coalition -18, the Social -Democratic Party-8, the Union of Poles-4, the National Union of Lithuania-3, the Center Movement-2, the Independence Party, Christian Democratic Union, and an independent candidate-1-each. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIAN PRO PATRIA UNITES TO BECOME PARTY. Four conservative political parties that ran under one ticket in September's parliamentary and presidential elections have formally united to become a single political party, BNS reports. On 21 November, the election coalition Pro Patria (Isamaa) held its founding congress, uniting the Christian Democratic Union, the Christian Democratic Party, the Conservative Popular Party and the Republican Coalition Party. The Liberal Democratic Party, which also ran under the election coalition, did not become part of Pro Patria, and the Estonian National Independence Party, which is part of the currently ruling government coalition but was not in the election coalition, also declined. Pro Patria voted Prime Minister Mart Laar, of the Christian Democratic Union, to be chairman of the new party. The election coalition voted last summer to formalize its status as a political party after elections. (Riina Kionka) HDF CRITICAL OF HUNGARIAN MEDIA. At a 21-November meeting organized by the Hungarian Democratic Forum in Kecskemet, Sandor Lezsak, one of the party's vice chairmen, condemned two articles published recently in Budapest dailies. Lezsak said that an article in Nepszabadsag alleging an upcoming government shakeup was written by representatives of a political force interested in running the country down in advance of the 1994 elections. The second article, in Magyar hirlap, details a meeting of the HDF presidium at which the leading party organ allegedly told Vice Chairman Istvan Csurka he should stop going his own way within the party or else resign. Csurka became the center of attention after publishing a political tract with anti-Semitic undertones and lambasting the lukewarm policies of the HDF for political change Lezsak called the Magyar Hirlap article a provocation. The report was carried by MTI on 21 November. (Judith Pataki) WESTERN STATESMEN FOCUS ON BALTICS. In a 19 November commentary to the New York Times entitled "Save the Peace Dividend," former President Richard Nixon joined the ranks of Western statesmen focusing on the Baltic States as a linchpin of future US-Russian relations. "One of the most effective ways we can help Mr. Yeltsin," Nixon writes, "is to champion the rights of the 25 million Russian-speaking people in the Baltic and other post-Soviet states-both bilaterally and in international forums. The Russian people should be able to feel that their human rights are a priority for American diplomacy." Early last week, without citing evidence, former President Carter said the US is witnessing "human rights violations" in Estonia and Latvia, a statement Senator Richard Lugar, who visited Tallinn this week, emphasized is not an official US government position. On 8 November writing in the Washington Post, retired American diplomat George Kennan called on the US to build housing for officers currently serving in the Baltics "as a gesture of goodwill toward the Russian and Baltic peoples and as a contribution to the stability of the Baltic region." (Riina Kionka) ABISALA REPROACHES RUSSIA FOR BANK DELAY. On 19 November Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala told a press conference that Russia has started to meet its agreements on the mutual settlement of accounts with Lithuania, signed on 30-September, BNS reports. The agreement provides that accounts be opened in the central banks of both countries. Russia just recently informed Lithuania that an account for its use with a balance of 4.6 billion rubles has been opened. A Russian account at the Bank of Lithuania will be opened after the official documents are received from Russia. (Saulius Girnius) MORE ESTONIANS EVACUATED FROM ABKHAZIA. Estonia on 21 November sent a plane to evacuate some 30 compatriots stranded by the fighting in the Abkhazia area of Georgia, BNS reports. The mission, organized by the Estonian Migration Department, is the third evacuation flight to Tallinn since fighting broke out in Sukhumi. The previous flight on 30-October brought some 60 Estonians and their families back to Tallinn. (Riina Kionka) POLISH-AMERICAN MILITARY CONTACTS. Deputy Defense Minister Przemyslaw Grudzinski and Jerzy Milewski, head of the National Security Bureau, reported on a recent high-level Polish military delegation visit in the US. Both welcomed the creation of a standing joint working group for military contacts, cochaired by Grudzinski and Undersecretary of Defense Louis Libby. Each side is to be represented in the working group by 10 to 12 officers. The first meeting will be held in December, PAP reported on 18-November. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) POLISH-BELARUS RELATIONS. During a one-day visit in Belarus on 18 November, Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka and her Belarus counterpart, Vyacheslav Kebich, signed several bilateral agreements and agreed to set up a joint commercial bank to facilitate trade. On her return, Suchocka told PAP that Poland is interested in seeing Belarus a fully sovereign country and that its road to Europe should lead via Poland. Part of the Polish press has expressed concern that the 22 agreements signed between Belarus and Russia in the summer make Belarus economically too dependent on Russia. (Anna Sabbat- Swidlicka) ILIESCU TO VISIT FRANCE ON 24 NOVEMBER. Radio Bucharest announced on 21-November that Romania's reelected President Ion Iliescu will go to Paris on 24 November to meet French President Fran¨ois Mitterrand. No details were provided. (Dan Ionescu) ILIESCU, VACAROIU ATTEND CEAUSESCU-STYLE FESTIVITIES. Radio Bucharest reported on 22 November that President Iliescu, Premier Vacaroiu and other officials attended festivities marking the 1890th anniversary of a battle between Romans and Geto- Dacians (an ancient local population). The event took place at Adamclisi, southern Dobruja. In his address, Iliescu hailed the "permanence and continuity" of the Romanian people in the region and described a Roman monument commemorating the battle as a symbol of "our legitimacy in a Europe divided and full of contradictions." The pageantry was strikingly reminiscent of the peculiar 2,050th anniversary of the "first centralized and independent Dacian state," staged under Ceausescu in 1980. (Dan Ionescu) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.